so, it happened again. a white girl at work told me convincingly that i wasn't really "black". this is a fairly good friend/co-worker, so naturally i wasn't quick to be offended. that's the thing. white people who say things like this to their black friends never mean to be offensive. they just don't know any better. seriously. they usually mean it in the most naively, positive way.
before i break down the conversation we had, let me start out with some background: my hair is in need of a relaxer. i think it's been a good while since my last touch up. i have quite a bit of grow out. i literally have been so swamped with work and my kids' school activities that i've had no time to make an appointment. i'm getting it done soon, but i've felt kind of self-conscious about my hair in the last few weeks. when i have grow out, i can't really style it exactly the way i like, because it just doesn't lay down in places where i want it to lay down. but i've worked with it, putting it up in sophisticated up-dos and things like that. but it doesn't look like 100% to me.
so anyway, my co-worker asks me to walk with her down the street to get a coffee. and it's raining hard. i agree and get my umbrella. as we go out into the rain i started to open the umbrella. she then says:
her: (jokingly)oh yes girl, you better open that umbrella, you can't let your hair get wet! i know, because my best friend growing up was black and she couldn't get her hair wet....
(i hate this misconception, by the way...)
me: well uh actually....i CAN get my hair wet, and at this point i'm in need of a straightening so the rain can't do much to hurt it anyway....
her: but your hair is great! i mean, your hair isn't even like real black hair! you have awesome black hair. it's really not like black hair!
(i must admit it did make me feel less self conscious about my grow-out not looking as bad as i thought it did, but on the other hand....what does 'real black hair' look like? an afro?)
her: i mean, you're like, not even really black! (what does that even mean?)
i could have corrected her and got all afro-centric on her but i just didn't feel like it. and who cares? i won't change the world. i know her, she meant no harm, she's just ignorant, the way a lot of white people are. it's true. i mean, sure there are always going to be the hateful white people who DO mean to be rude and ignorant but some white people just are truly ignorant about things like black hair, levels of blackness (like is a light skinned black person REALLY a black person????) and so on.
although now that i write this i'm thinking maybe i should have said more to break the ignorance-about-black-hair- chain.